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Employers Look to Fill Seasonal Jobs, Advocates Look to Protect Workers in US

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Toribio Jimenez lies on his bed in his basement bedroom of the home where he and 10 other people live in Nashville, Tenn, Sept. 3, 2009. Jimenez was given a job removing asbestos in the U.S. through the H2-B nonagricultural guest worker program. The job was not the job that was promised to him through the program, and after being fired, Jimenez said he now has no option but to work illegally so he can pay back the money he borrowed to make the trip to the U.S. VOA
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You may have noticed: Much of the recent anti-immigration rhetoric in Washington most loudly comes from factions on the political right: H1B, H2B, it’s all about protecting American jobs.

But every step of the way, progressive groups — while pro-immigrant — are just as critical of foreign worker visas. Federal regulations on the books, they argue, are inherently insufficient to protect visa holders from abuse, whether through unwarranted recruitment fees, misrepresentation of job requirements, fraud or intimidation.

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The issue plagues potential recruits, but also well-meaning businesses that can’t find enough Americans willing to take seasonal jobs. In Cape Cod, Massachusetts and other areas of the country whose economic models are centered on five-to-six-month tourist seasons, the work of H2B visa-holders becomes essential to business owners.

Tyler Hayes, vice president of Cape Cod Restaurants, says his seasonal businesses — including Flying Bride Restaurant, shown here in April — would suffer without H-2B workers. After 20 years in the business, he says the children of foreign workers have begun to work for them. (R. Taylor/VOA)

Employers worry, too

Tyler Hayes, vice president of Cape Cod Restaurants, says he is fortunate that his seasonal foreign workforce, mainly from Jamaica, has created a “family atmosphere” during his 20-year tenure with the company.

“Now, their children are coming in, working for us,” Hayes said.

But while Hayes can only point to the well-being of his own workforce, he acknowledges that at least in recent years, abuse of workers has not been inconceivable.

“There used to be these companies that would send out these big petitions,” Hayes recalled. “They bring in 100 or 200 people, get them in the country and then farm them out.”

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In response, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cracked down on abuse within the H2B system in 2015, both in order to prevent the exploitation of workers and to ensure U.S. workers’ awareness of available jobs.

Are regulations enough?

Elizabeth Mauldin, policy director at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) — the Center for Migrant Rights — calls those protections basic, including the right to receive a contract before entering the U.S. and protection from being charged a recruitment fee.

But many aspects of those existing regulations, she argues, are difficult to ensure, absent greater transparency in the recruitment process.

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“It’s impossible to enforce a ban on charging workers fees,” Mauldin told VOA. “When workers are charged fees upfront, they are vulnerable to the same type of economic coercion across the board.” As a result, she notes, foreign workers become susceptible to wage theft and other abuses, regardless of their visa category.

Afraid to report

A 2013 report issued by CDM, whose findings were based on a survey and in-depth interviews with hundreds of H2B workers, found that 58 percent of respondents reported paying illegal recruitment fees, while 10 percent reported recruitment fraud — having paid a fee for a nonexistent job.

While there are mechanisms in place for foreign workers to report abuse, Mauldin argues that the disincentives are often too great.

“[Abusive employers] will say, at the end of the season, ‘If you pay those fees, then we will be more likely to recruit you in the future,’ or ‘If you don’t report these violations, then our recruiter will choose you again next year,’” Mauldin said.

Jane Nichols Bishop, who goes by the nickname “Mama Visa,” helps local companies secure annual H2B visas. “I like to joke and say we have more great white sharks than I have workers looking for a job on Cape Cod,” she says. VOA

Jane Nichols Bishop, founder and president of Peak Season Workforce, a family-run company that helps Cape Cod-area businesses secure H2B visas, says the mechanisms in place to prevent exploitation, including audits by the Department of Labor, have largely worked. But in cases where they do not, she says it’s in everyone’s interest that the infractions are reported.

“If there are abuses, we would like to see them caught,” Nichols said. “They give everyone who does this and who works at this very successfully a very bad name.”

Workers empower themselves

Despite ongoing reports of abuse nationwide, there is some hope for affected foreigners outside of federal regulations, thanks to the internet. A bilingual workers’ rights initiative, which Mauldin calls the Yelp for migrant workers, allows workers to review recruiters and share their experiences, and create a self-empowering community in the process. (VOA)

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Let’s Celebrate Father’s Day With Most famous Founding Fathers

Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

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Founding Fathers, left to right, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson revise the Declaration of Independence. (Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris)
Founding Fathers, left to right, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson revise the Declaration of Independence. (Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris), VOA

In the United States on the third Sunday of June we celebrate Father’s Day! So, today we celebrate fathers with some expressions that use the word “father” and “dad.”

Let’s begin with a great father idiom!

Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

An orphan is a child whose parents have died. Without parents, orphans can often feel alone in the world. There is no adult to claim them, so to speak.

We can say the same about failures. Often people, do not want to claim them as their own. People may not want to take ownership, for example, of a project at work that is a complete bust — you know, a failure.

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for people to fight over ownership of a big success. They always want to be on the right side of history.

“It was my idea!” “No, it wasn’t. I thought of it ages ago.” “Well, I did most of the work!”

You get the idea.

So, this idiom means that people like belonging to a successful cause but they distance themselves from a failed one.

Father and son
Father and son, Pixabay

Here’s how you can use it.

Let’s say a new business opens in your community. Everyone is excited about it! Some even invest money. It is the talk of the town. Then, it fails. People who once supported it don’t seem to remember supporting it.

When those people say to you, “Oh, I knew it would fail. It was doomed from the very beginning.” You can say to them, “Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.”

Now, you could say that creating the United States of America was a success. And there is a group of men who are famous for being on the right side of history.

We call them the Founding Fathers.

We capitalize these two words when we are talking about any member of the group who wrote the United States Constitution in 1787. Some of the most famous Founding Fathers are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

However, following the success of the musical Hamilton, perhaps Alexander Hamilton has temporarily won the title of “most famous” Founding Father.

But Founding Fathers aren’t just found in history books and on the Broadway stage. We also use this term in other situations.

A founding father is a person who starts or develops a new movement, idea or some other big concept. Used this way, however, we do not capitalize “founding father.”

The Founding Fathers of the U.S. are highly respected and admired by most people. Our next type of father isn’t.

Not all dads are the greatest. In fact, some leave their families and provide no money to help to raise their children. We have a special name for these dads – deadbeat dads.

Also read: Raazi Director Meghna Shares Her Feelings On Working With Father Gulzar

Just for the record, some moms do this, too. But we’ll have to cover that term next Mother’s Day! (VOA)